Michael Pascoe: ‘God’s plan’ – blaming God for human failures is a bit rich

by Michael Pascoe

‘The divine right of kings’ was an especially obnoxious and self-serving doctrine whereby kings claimed their power came from God and therefore they were only answerable to God.

You might say it was all “God’s plan”.

Never mind the sundry murders, coups, wars and invasions whereby royal families were installed – apparently that was all fine by God.

You would think that by the 21st century we would be spared such tosh, but no.

We maintain the medieval concept of our head of state being an inherited position on the other side of the world – and that person inherits the role of the titular head of the Church of England as well. Quaint.

And we had until very recently a prime minister who effectively claims to have divine blessing for all he did and did not do.

Scott Morrison’s belief that it’s “God’s plan” strikes me as obnoxious for either one of two reasons, or perhaps both.

It defames God, blaming Him or Her for multitudinous failures and outrages.

And it’s cowardly, implicitly claiming it was all His plan, not the individual’s responsibility for failure.

The “God’s plan” excuse runs counter to St Augustine’s advice to “Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you”.

To suggest that, whatever happens, it is God’s plan for you, is to abrogate responsibility, a copout.

Whether you are a believer or not, such fatalism might be a cuddly security blanket, but it is not a healthy thing to look for in people in positions of responsibility.

Which means in the pile-on after Mr Morrison’s sermon at Margaret Court’s church, it is fair to question the media and political failure to question just what Mr Morrison’s faith meant.

The then-prime minister was happy to parade his faith in election campaigns but resisted and was not pressed on its implications.

The ratbag end of Pentecostalism (and the ratbag bit is not far from the centre of that strain of Christianity) has beliefs that most of us would regard as objectionable, if not plain dangerous, if followed in government.

Scott Morrison in church during the 2019 election campaign. Photo: AAP

So is the real Scott Morrison finally standing up after all the Daggy Dad and tradie role playing, the photo ops and populism?

Or is this another Scott Morrison show, like suddenly switching his sporting faith from rugby union to rugby league?

In either case, is this a foretaste of Mr Morrison’s next job – rolling out the prosperity gospel at a church near you for fun and profit?

I don’t know. The real Scott Morrison, if there is one, has long been a subject for conjecture.

In 2019 I judged it fair to wonder if our prime minister was a nutter – it was a question never answered.

So now the “God’s plan” and “we don’t trust in the United Nations” wink is par for the course.

“It’s all God’s plan” is a seductive little belief, not as perverse as the Hillsong “God wants you to be rich” prosperity theology, but appealing in its echo of the sort of thinking that gave us the divine right of kings.

It makes a strong argument for the separation of church and state, for reaffirming that government needs to be secular.

Faith, after all, is purely a matter of faith. Doubt should be compulsory in any reasonable religion.